Did you think that COVID-19 would spell the end of the annual holiday office party? It’s true to some extent, but if you take the appropriate precautions, you can still enjoy a lovely evening with your colleagues.
Given the novel coronavirus’s reality, you’ll need to take additional precautions this year. Here are five tips for planning a safe holiday get-together with co-workers.
1. Stay Small and Respect Everyone’s Schedules
When it comes to gatherings during a pandemic, the smaller you can make them, the better. Instead of having one massive soiree for the whole gang, why not hold more intimate get-togethers for each department?
What if doing so means having a few parties of one, or you don’t relish the thought of spending more time with the same faces you see daily? Have everyone write their names on slips of paper and draw them from a hat to divide your crew. Smaller gatherings mean less forced conversation and more time to get to know the supervisor for a division you’d like to transfer into more closely.
2. Take It Outdoors
If you live in the frozen north, you might think throwing an outdoor party this time of year sounds absurd. However, most experts consider outside gatherings safer than indoor parties.
If your company has the budget, harness the power of infrared heat to provide cozy seating areas — such amenities also offer employees the opportunity to take lunch outdoors all year long. If you improve the space well enough, you can use it as a draw during hiring negotiations. Place patio heaters strategically throughout and create a fairy-like glow with holiday light strings.
Outdoor parties let you host a larger gathering — including spouses and children — without exposing your office to outside germs. You can keep everything locked except the route to the restroom, making the cleanup and sanitation less burdensome on your janitorial staff.
3. Have Plenty of Supplies
According to the CDC, face coverings are a vital tool when fighting the spread of COVID-19. By now, you have enough experience to know that these bad boys rip at the slightest provocation — bring plenty of extras. Have trays of masks and hand sanitizer stations widely available.
While preventing infectious disease comes to everyone’s mind when planning gatherings these days, you still need to avoid food-borne pathogens, too. Gather multiple coolers to keep everything cold. There’s no need to worry about finding options to suit your occasion, as coolers range in size from 20 to 140 gallons. You’ll find something that meets your requirements.
4. Plan Inclusive Food and Drink
People avoid certain foods and beverages for a mix of health, religious and traditional reasons. Plus, allergies can transform a humble peanut into a deadly weapon. When choosing your catering options, plan to be inclusive.
Keep in mind that many dishes can do double-duty — you don’t need a separate menu for vegans and paleo-diet enthusiasts. Treats such as balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts are safe for folks who shun meat, gluten, nuts or carbs.
Likewise, while you might think that free booze keeps things festive, not everyone drinks alcohol. That doesn’t mean they want the stigma of walking around with a kids’ juice box. If you choose to serve adult beverages, make sure you include a bowl of N/A punch that looks every bit as elegant.
5. Provide Ample Activities
It’s more vital than ever to get folks up from their tables and moving, if for no other reason than to make social distancing more manageable. Plus, you cut potential rowdiness and embarrassment if you keep folks engaged with something besides the open bar.
You don’t need to hit the basketball court for a pick-up game of Horse — although that is one fabulous idea. Games like Garden Party Scattergories (or a holiday version) let everyone get involved, not just your more athletic staff members. You can always propose an impromptu scavenger hunt if folks seem to start socializing a bit too close together.
Plan a Safe Holiday Get-Together with Your Co-Workers This Holiday
Few folks want to go without the annual company party. Plan a safe get-together with co-workers this holiday season and keep the tradition alive.